Urbana Art Installation Displays Work From Danville Inmates

February 23, 2018
Five inmates at the Danville Correction Center created a mural composed of eight parts featuring the portraits of respected alums of the DCC's college in prison program, the Education Justice Program. The artists behind the piece are also enroll

Five inmates at the Danville Correction Center created a mural composed of eight parts featuring the portraits of respected alums of the DCC's college in prison program, the Education Justice Program. The artists behind the piece are also enrolled in the program. The work is featured at the Urbana co-op, Common Ground.

Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Media

A new art exhibit at the Common Ground food co-operative in Urbana features the work of five inmates at the Danville Correctional Center. The installation is a partnership between the co-op and the Education Justice Project, a college in prison program at the University of Illinois.

The inmates are enrolled in the EJP program and worked collaboratively on the installation over the course of several weeks. The primary image is composed of eight pieces of pasteboard. The artists used pencils and markers to create the illustration, which features portraits of several well respected alums of the EJP program flanked on one side by the U of I logo and the words “building from the inside out" on the other. 

The piece as a whole "represents a jigsaw puzzle," said Bert Stabler, a volunteer with EJP.

"Some artists are more interested in portraiture. Those men worked on faces. We had other men good at lettering and doing graphic work," he said. 

Education Justice Project artwork at the Common Ground Co-Op in Urbana

Travis Stansel / Illinois Pblic Media

Sarah Buckman, outreach coordination for Common Ground, said the co-op routinely partners with artists in the community to display their work inside the store’s combination gallery, classroom and dining space. Like the local artists the co-op regularly features in it's combination gallery, dining space and classroom, Buckman says the artist inmates at Danville Correctional Center are also a part of the Urbana community. 

“This has just been another way that we can extend this program to people who really need their voices to be heard,” she said. The co-op is also collecting donations for the EJP program from customers this month. 

Stabler said the men were excited to learn that their work would be featured in the space. 

He said the artists’ goal was to make: “A piece with a lot of immediate appeal to a variety of audiences who can then go and learn about EJP and potentially become involved in our work.”

The mural will be on display at Common Ground through mid-March. 

Story source: WILL